Frequently Asked Questions
I've just hit a deer. What do I do? Who is responsible for the damage to my vehicle?
All big game found dead should be left where found and need not be reported. If you are concerned about the dead deer on the state road, you can call the State Highway Department. If it is on a county road, you may call the County Road Department. Individuals wanting to keep big game found dead must first contact the local Regional TWRA office for authorization. Any vehicle in which an illegally possessed big game animal is found is subject to confiscation. Deer accidentally killed by a motor vehicle may be possessed by any person for personal use and consumption if the TWRA or a local law enforcement agency is notified within 48 hours. You will need to report the incident to your insurance company because the state is not liable for the damages caused by wild animals pursuant to T.C.A. 9-8-307.
To whom should I report a boating accident? A hunting accident?
Any boating accident that involves death, disappearance, or serious injury of any person, or property damage in excess of $2000.00 must immediately be notified to the TWRA. An accident report shall be filed within 48 hours. An accident report of property damage only in excess of $2000.00 shall be filed within 10 days.
Report any hunting accidents with injury, including falls from tree stands, to the nearest of TWRA's four regional offices.
- Boating Education
The Tennessee mandatory boating education law is similar to the driver’s license law. You acquire the study materials, study, purchase the $10.00 Type 600 boating safety exam permit, then take an approved boating safety exam administered by an approved representative of the TWRA.
Who is required to get a boating safety education certification?
Any Tennessee resident born after January 1, 1989 must show the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Card as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam.
Non-Tennessee residents born after January 1, 1989 must show proof of successful completion of a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved course.
Where can I prepare for the exam?
There are many avenues to study:
You may call 615-837-6013 and have study materials sent to you (free) and self study, or send an email with your name and address and materials will be sent to you.
You may log onto www.boat-ed.com/tennessee and study online for free. There are practice tests on this site that are a great study tool to prepare for the exam.
Boating Safety Class: There are many classroom classes offered throughout the state.
US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxiliary – hold classes periodically. As classes are scheduled, they are posted on our web site. Classes are usually scheduled after the boat shows.
Note: The TWRA-issued wallet card is the only certification that will be recognized as meeting the requirements of the law for Tennessee residents.
I live in another state but have a house on a Tennessee lake. My boats are registered in Tennessee. Does my 14 year old need to be certified in Tennessee?
This law applies to Tennessee residents however, if an out of state person is in this age category and is operating a boat in Tennessee, he/she must show proof of successful completion of any NASBLA-approved boating safety course.
Out of state is determined by the legal address of the person.
If you are certified in another state, and you were born after January 1, 1989 and move to Tennessee, then you must pay the $10.00 Type 600 boating safety exam permit to a license agent and take the TWRA-administered exam.
Is there an age restriction for anyone wanting to take the exam?
Yes, 11 years old. The type 600 boating education permit will not be sold to anyone younger than 11.
- Boat Registration
Do I have to register my ______ ? (jet ski, sailboat, canoe, etc)
All vessels powered by a motor, trolling motor or sail must be registered. Boats powered by paddles or oars do not have to be registered.
How do I register my boat?
Note: Because documentation requirements vary from county to county, please call your County Clerk's office prior going there to ensure that you take the proper documentation in order to register your boat.
The Tennessee Department of Revenue requires proof that sales taxes have been paid before the boat's initial registration. If the boat was purchased from a Tennessee boat dealer, the dealer should provide the owner with an application that has been certified showing taxes have been paid. The white copy of the application is mailed in for processing. The yellow copy is kept as a temporary permit to operate with until the application has been processed.
Boats Transferred from one Individual to another
A Tennessee County Clerk must certify applications for boats purchased between individuals. The clerk will collect taxes and usually requires a bill of sale from the individuals involved. The white copy of the application is mailed in for processing. The yellow copy is kept as a temporary permit to operate the boat until the application has been processed.
Renewing a Registration That Does Not Involve a Change of Ownership.
Complete the renewal notice that was mailed to you and return it along with the correct fee to the address shown on the notice.
Renew your registration at a business which sells TWRA hunting and fishing licenses (i.e. many Wal-Marts and K-marts, etc.). The business will collect the fee and issue a receipt that serves as a temporary permit until the new certificate and decals arrive by mail in about 2 or 3 weeks.
Note: After 10 years without renewing your boat, you are dropped from the system and need to register as if it were your initial registration.
Registration by Boat Docks or Boat Rentals or Registration by Dealers or Manufacturers.
Call the Boat Registration Office of the TWRA in Nashville, (615) 781-6618 and ask for details.
How long does it take for my application to be processed?
Please allow 30 days for your registration to be processed and returned. If your new decals and certificate have not arrived within 30 days, call (615) 781-6585 to check on the progress.
How do I get a new card or decals for the one I've lost?
Go to your nearest TWRA license agent. There are about 1,000 license agents which include most Wal-Marts and K-Marts; boat docks, bait & tackle, sporting goods and convenience markets. The replacement cost is $7.00.
What is the minimum age to operate a boat?
Persons under 12 years old may not operate a powered boat of more than 8.5 horsepower unless they are accompanied by an adult who can take immediate control of the vessel. If the accompanying adult is born after January 1, 1989, then he/she must have the boating safety certification card onboard. Personal watercraft may not be rented by anyone younger that 16 years of age.
Where can I find my boat's hull identification number?
The boat's hull identification number should be a combination of 12 letters and numbers. It is generally located in the upper right corner of the boat's transom (the flat part of the boat where the motor is mounted). The number for pontoon boats can also be found on a bracket between the pontoon and deck in the lower right corner on the back of the boat.
I've moved and need to notify TWRA of my new address. How do I do that? Either call in your new address to (615) 781-6618, or send a letter to the main TWRA office to the attention of the Boating Division notifying them of the change.
- Boating Regulations
What is the current life jacket law?
All boats, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one wearable Personal Flotation Device (life jacket) for each person on board or for each person being towed on water skis, etc. Boats 16 feet in length or over (except canoes and kayaks) must also be equipped with one Type IV (throwable) Personal Flotation Device in case someone falls overboard. All children 12 years of age and younger are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while on the open deck of a recreational boat except when anchored, moored, or aground.
How can I get a job as a Wildlife Officer?
All applicants for the position of Wildlife Officer with the TWRA must have a bachelor's degree in wildlife management, fish management, or wildlife biology or related degree. If the potential applicant meets that requirement, he or she needs to submit a completed online application that provides the details of your related working experience, educational accomplishments and you must attach a copy of your latest transcript and diploma. After the application is submitted, the applicant is rated based on education and experience. Qualifying applicants will be listed on the State's employment register.
Hiring usually takes place once a year at the end of May or the beginning of June.
TWRA Human Resources office: (615) 781-6594
- Hunting (Including Hunter Education Card Information)
How do I prepare my dove field so it will not be baited?
Contact the TWRA office in your region and request the brochure "Dove Hunting in Tennessee. This publication will give you detailed information on how to prepare a wildlife food plot for doves. It will also provide examples of normal agricultural practices over which doves may be hunted.
Is it legal to use a crossbow during archery season?
Yes. It is legal for anyone to use a crossbow during any season that allows archery.
Is it legal to use an electronic call to hunt coyotes?
Yes. It is legal to use an electronic call (during daylight hours only) for all game species except for fox, wild turkey, and waterfowl.
Who must take a Hunter Education Class and where are they offered?
Anyone who wishes to hunt in Tennessee and was born on or after January 1, 1969, must pass a Hunter Education Class. These classes are free and are scheduled by the Hunter Safety Coordinator in each of TWRA's four regions. To find a convenient class, call the nearest of TWRA's four regional offices and ask for information about a class near you or click here: Regional Hunter Education Classes . Most of the classes are taught in the spring prior to turkey season or in late summer or early fall.
I've lost my Hunter Education Card; how do I get a replacement?
To replace a Hunter Education card at a TWRA license agent location, first contact your TWRA regional office during normal business hours. Verify that your Hunter Education information has been updated in the TWRA license system. Then you may go to a TWRA license agent and purchase a Type 500 (Hunter Education Card Replacement) for $7.00. The office phone numbers are listed here: Regional Office Phone Numbers. You may also purchase a replacement card online at the Online License Center.
If I shoot a deer and it makes it across a property line before it falls, do I have the right to go get it?
No. You must always obtain permission from a landowner to go onto his property even if the deer is in plain sight.
Can I shoot an albino deer?
No. Hunting, trapping or possession of albino deer is prohibited. An albino deer is a deer with a lack, or significant deficiency, of pigment in the skin and hair, and has pink eyes. White deer that are not albino can be taken during deer seasons.
How do I know if a deer counts as a statewide deer or a bonus deer?
Some deer killed on WMA hunts may count as a bonus deer, not counting against the statewide bag limit. For WMAs that list a specific hunt date and bag limit, these deer are considered bonus deer and do not count against the statewide bag limit unless otherwise noted.
How many antlered bucks can I harvest?
The antlered buck limit is one per day not to exceed 2 for the year. The overall limit of 2 bucks also includes any antlered bucks taken on the special statewide youth hunts.
Can I take a limit of deer from Unit A and another limit from Unit B?
A hunter may harvest a limit of antlerless deer in both units, except that the hunter may take no more than a total of 2 antlered bucks per year (statewide limit).
How long do the antlers have to be to constitute a deer qualifying as a buck?
Antlered deer are male or female deer with antler protruding above the hairline.
Can I use my bow or crossbow during the muzzleloader and gun seasons and kill both of my bucks with a bow?
Can I hunt with a handgun?
Yes, (depending on the season) but you must be 18 years of age.
For Deer, Bear, and Elk hunting, center-fire handguns are legal in all counties except where regulated by legislative acts. Full metal jacketed ammunition is prohibited.
Handguns using rim-fire ammunition and air rifles are legal for hunting small game except migratory birds.
Can I take a child, who is under 10 years of age, hunting?
Yes, but you must be at least 21 year of age and always in a position to take control of the child's hunting device.
- Hunting & Fishing Licenses
Can I order my license online?
Yes, you can order your license from the Tennessee Online Licensing System.
Where can I get my hunting/fishing/sportsman's license?
There are about 1,000 license agents which include most Wal-Marts and K-Marts; boat docks, bait & tackle, sporting goods and convenience markets. You can also renew your boat registration at these locations.
I've lost my hunting/fishing/sportsman's license. What do I do?
If you've misplaced/lost your license, go to any TWRA license agent and ask for a duplicate license. There is a $7.00 replacement fee.
Do I need a license to fish in my home county if I'm using a cane pole and natural bait?
Yes. A County of Residence license (Type 020) is required for anglers fishing natural bait (worms, crickets, corn, etc), but not minnows to fish in their county of residence. No artificial baits can be used. The County of Residence fishing license can be purchased for $9.00. A supplemental license (Type 022) is required to fish for trout.
Who can hunt on a landowner's property without a license?
1. Landowners, their spouse and children who hunt on farmland which is owned by said landowners. The aforementioned must be residents of Tennessee but need not reside on the land. This license exemption does not apply if the farm land is owned jointly or in common by unrelated persons.*
* Landowner License Exemption: Persons hunting without a license under a farmland owner exemption must complete and sign a statement attesting where the property is located and how this land qualifies for a landowner exemption before hunting. All persons, including youth, hunting without a license under a farmland owner exemption must comply with the provisions of T.C.A. 70-2-204 (b). Landowners and their children hunting on their parent's land under this exemption are also exempt from Hunter Education Certification requirements.
2. Resident Tenants, their spouse and dependent children who hunt on farmland owned by an individual or a family. The aforementioned must be residents of Tennessee and must actually reside on the land and have permission of the landowner to hunt. A tenant is a person who, for money, free rent, or other consideration, cares for farmland. The tenancy must be agricultural in nature. Property owned by grandparents does not qualify their grandchildren for this exemption. (See Landowner Exemption above)
3. First cousins who own farmland jointly or in common may fish and hunt small game on the farmland. Their children may fish and hunt small game on the land as well. (See Landowner License Exemption above)
I own land in Tennessee but reside in another state. Do I qualify for the landowner license exemption?
Can grandchildren of farmland owners hunt on the farmland without a license?
Yes. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren, under the age of 16, may hunt without a license as long as they are Tennessee residents. The grandparent or great-grandparent must be the bona fide owner of the land and the grandchildren must have the landowner's permission. Hunting must only be done in a season when it is lawful to do so.
Are senior citizens required to have a hunting and fishing license?
No license is required if you were born before March 1, 1926. Residents born after that date may purchase a Permanent Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap license (Type 166) when they reach their 65th birthday. This license may be obtained from any TWRA license agent. A valid Tennessee driver's license or proof of age and residency is required. Federal Duck Stamp, Special Quota Hunts, and WMA permits are still required (where applicable).
At what age must one have a hunting or fishing license?
The following applies to both resident and nonresident juvenile hunters. Those under the age of 10 may hunt without a license anywhere in Tennessee, but must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older. Any hunter ages 10-12 needs only a hunter education certificate. There is a special Junior Hunt/Trap/Fish license available for ages 13-15. Hunters ages 13-15 are also required to have a Migratory Bird Permit. All hunters 16 and over must have a valid hunting license, and all necessary supplemental licenses (including Federal Duck Stamp and Migratory Bird Permit). See Senior Citizen requirements above.
The following applies to both resident and nonresident juvenile anglers: Those under the age of 13 may fish without a license anywhere in Tennessee. (Certain permits may be required for all ages). There is a special Junior Hunt/Trap/Fish license available for ages 13-15. All persons who fish, age 16 and over, must have a valid fishing license, and any necessary trout license or fishing permits where applicable. See Senior Citizen requirements above.
My son/daughter is 16 and has an adult license. Can he/she still participate in youth hunts?
Yes. The criteria for youth hunts is the hunter's age, not the hunter's license type. There are, however, special age requirements for youth waterfowl hunts.
What is a TWRA ID number?
It is a unique customer number generated when a TWRA license or registration is first purchased. This number will stay the same for that person in subsequent years for all license and registration purchases.
How do I become a TWRA License Agent?
If you are interested in becoming a TWRA License Agent, please contact the TWRA Revenue Office at 1-800-648-8798.
Are there cougars in Tennessee?
Can deer with EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) be harmful to humans?
The most important thing for hunters, landowners, and the public to know is that this is a regular and natural event that routinely afflicts white-tailed deer and that it is not transmissible to humans or any other animals.
I've found an orphaned animal. How can I care for it?
It is best not to pick up any wild animal. Most "orphans" have parents nearby waiting for you to leave. If you know for certain the animal is orphaned, call the nearest of TWRA's four Regional Offices, and they will put you in touch with the nearest rehabilitator. DO NOT try to take care of the animal yourself.
Does your agency pick up dead deer or need to know about one on the road?
No longer. If you wish to report a deer found dead on a state road, please call the State Highway Department. If it's on a county road, please call the County Road Department.
My child wants to make a pet of a box turtle (or any wild animal) we found in the woods. How do I care for it?
In Tennessee, no one is allowed to keep any animal as a pet taken from the wild, which to many people's surprise includes tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, baby birds, squirrels, raccoons, and young deer. If the animal is injured, call the nearest of TWRA's four Regional Offices for a list of permitted rehabilitators, who will keep the animal until it can be returned to the wild. If it cannot be returned, the rehabilitator will turn the animal over to someone with a special Educator's Permit, who may be able to use the animal in a classroom or teaching setting.
How do I keep deer off of my property?
There are several options available to you that should prevent deer from coming into your property. These solutions involve various fencing types, repellents, or scare tactics. TWRA distributes a brochure called Managing Deer Damage in Tennessee which discusses these options. This brochure should be available at your regional TWRA office or can be requested from the Wildlife Division (615) 781-5262.
Coping with Deer Damage in Your Flower Garden is another brochure which lists natural deterrents such as trees, shrubs, vines, etc. that may deter deer from entering your garden. This brochure is available from the Wildlife Division at the main TWRA office.
What do I do about other wildlife damage to my garden?
Call the Wildlife Division in the Nashville office and someone there will be able to discuss the issue with you and find an appropriate solution.
There's a skunk, opossum, etc. living under my house will you remove them?
TWRA permits certain private individuals who do animal damage control. For a list of animal damage control permit holders, click here.
How do I get in touch with my county wildlife officer?
During regular business hours (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. local time), contact the nearest of TWRA's four regional offices and ask that the officer, assigned to your particular county, give you a call. After hours (from 12:00 midnight - 7:00 a.m. local time), you may leave a message. Give your name, phone number, and nature of your call. Someone will get back to you.
How can I purchase ammo tax stamps?
State law requires that all persons, firms, and corporations engaged in the business of buying, selling, distributing, storing, receiving, having in possession or using shotgun shells or metallic cartridges, shall pay a special privilege tax in addition to all other taxes in an amount or equal to 10 cents per individual container on all center-fire ammunition, all shotgun shells, and rim-fire ammunition. For more information about Ammunition Tax Stamps and how to obtain them, please contact the TWRA Revenue Office at 1-800-648-8798.
Where can I get a Wildlife Management Area map?
Black and White WMA maps are available free of charge from the regional and main offices. Either stop by an office to pick up the map you need (generally found in the lobby) or call the regional office in which the WMA is located and have them mail a map out to you. Some downloadable maps are available from our GIS (Geographic Information System) Department by clicking here: GIS WMA Maps.
May persons possessing handgun carry permits possess their handguns while on WMAs, PHAs, or refuges open to hunter access?
Recent legislative changes provide that individuals who possess a carry permit may possess their handgun while on TWRA wildlife management areas, public hunting areas, or refuges open to hunter access. The handgun may not be used for taking game unless specifically permitted by TWRA regulation. This change will now allow those with carry permits to possess their handgun at times when previously it would not have been permissible such as during archery hunting. TWRA will apply this same interpretation to those possessing carry permits while hunting on private lands.
Do I have to tag an otter or bobcat and how do I get them tagged?
Bobcat pelts are not required to be tagged, unless they are to be sold. If so, the hunter/trapper needs to contact their TWRA regional office to obtain a tag. All river otters must be tagged by the harvester with U.S. CITES tags. Before the end of the legal taking season, the hunter/trapper needs to contact the TWRA regional office for tags to be attached to the pelts.
When is a muzzleoader or crossbow considered to be unloaded?
A muzzleloader is considered to be unloaded if the cap is removed from the nipple. A crossbow is considered to be unloaded if the bolt is removed from the device.
Where can I ride my ATV?
Operation of any motorized vehicle is confined to roads not designated as closed. Off-road vehicles are restricted to roads open to other motorized traffic (except where prohibited by state or federal law). ATVs, dirt bikes, and other non-licensed motorized vehicles cannot legally be operated on public roads. If you have questions about specific roads on a WMA, it is best to contact the Wildlife Area Manager listed in the Hunting Guide.